Athing Mu

Freshman phenom Athing Mu set a collegiate record in the 400m on the final night of the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships, running a personal best time of 49.84. 

Deuteronomy 28:13 reads, “The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.”

When discussing Deuteronomy 28:13, freshman Athing Mu said God rewards those who run toward Him.

“As a follower of Christ, our main goal is to live in the image of Jesus in order to connect to God and ‘get to’ God,” Mu said. “I believe when God is ready to give you blessings, He gives it to you with all intentions. In this case, ‘keeping one at the top, never at the bottom.’”

Though only in her freshman season, Mu has become one of the top middle distance runners in the country. At the Michael Johnson Invitational in April, the New Jersey native broke the 800-meter collegiate record and became the 10th-fastest woman in the history of the event. While her athletic victories are dependent on her speed, Mu also attributes her success to her relationship with God.

In her collegiate debut, she set the American under-20 800-meter record with a time of 2:01.07. This was also the fifth fastest all-time collegiate indoor 800-meter American record.

Senior middle distance runner Jean Jenkins said there is more to Mu than meets the eye.

“[Mu] has God-given talent,” Jenkins said. “I think it’s really in- credible because when you get to know her, she’s so much more than just a runner. She’s such a beautiful and pure soul. She’s always full of joy...She really has a heart for God, I think that’s something that’s very honorable about her. And I think that has really carried her with running, with everything.”

The runner and the entire A&M track and field program is coached by Pat Henry. Henry has been coaching since 1974, but has been the head of A&M’s program since 2005.

In that time, Henry has garnered nine NCAA Championships and accumulated 36 national team titles on the NCAA Division I level.

In over four decades of coaching, Henry said Mu is the best woman he’s ever seen on the track.

“She is a fantastic athlete. I’ve been doing this [for] 48 years. She’s the best female athlete I’ve ever had,” Henry said.

Less than a year into her collegiate career, Mu ranks first on the Collegiate All-Time Top- 10 Performance List in the indoor 600-meter, indoor 4x400-meter, indoor 800-meter and the outdoor 800-meter.

Mu said she not only runs for herself, but for God and her faith.

“I’m just coming out here and trying to test myself and see where I’m at and just run,” Mu said. “I’m doing this for me, nobody else besides God. I’m just having fun with it.”

At the upcoming Olympic Trials in June, Mu said she intends to run the 800-meter.

This is the particular event in which she broke the all-time women’s collegiate record at the Michael Johnson Invitational on Satur- day, April 17.

Her time of 1:57.73 met the Olympic qualifying standards and set her fourth collegiate record.

“[Mu] running 1:57.73 is one of the single greatest performances I’ve ever seen in collegiate track & field,” Henry said. “I’ve never seen that dominant of a performance. She is in a league of her own right now.”

Not only is her time an American junior record, but also a world-leading mark.

Mu is often inspired by her big heart and the love she has for the sport, Jenkins said.

“I know her heart and I know that she’s just amazing,” Jenkins said. “She’s trying to do everything she feels like God is calling her to do. She’s just trying to be the best that she can be and she’s just loving it. She loves being young and enjoying track and field. That’s one thing I love about her, just having a teammate who really radiates such positive energy. She’s really helped me find that love again for track.”

Even more impressive, at the SEC Championship in E.B. Cushing Stadium, the freshman ran the 400-meter with a time of 49.84 seconds.

Mu said achieving the under-50 mark was a big goal for her, but she still strives for more. “For some reason, [under 50], it’s such a goal for me,” Mu said. “I’ve done it [in] splits so when I PR and do it, it’s like I already did it so it’s not that much of a big deal, but at the same time it’s like, ‘Okay, we’re moving up, we’re improving, we’re doing well.’ I think my goals are just higher and I’m just trying to do the best and strive for greatness.”

Henry, who has led the Aggies to a total of 17 conference titles, said he likes to balance developing young and talented runners with older runners who have more experience.

“What we try to do in our program is that we’re about development,” Henry said. “We’re fortunate enough to have some really good freshmen in our group, [but] I don’t ever want to have a young team. If you have a young team, something went wrong at some point.”

More recently at the NCAA West Prelims on the week of May 26, Mu earned her ticket to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, setting the U.S. under-20 record in the 400-meter with a time of 49.68.

The championship meet takes place in Eugene, Ore., and starts on Wednesday, June 9. Despite her success so early on in her career, Mu said she has more to aspire to in the championship and in life. However, these goals are not only regarding personal records or times, but also inspiring others.

Jenkins said one of Mu’s top goals is to show others if they set their minds to some- thing, anything is achievable.

“She’s trying to make a difference and in- spire individuals and encourage young people that they can make their dreams come true,” Jenkins said. “They shouldn’t set limitations for themselves, and with God anything and everything is possible. That’s what she really instills in me and a lot of our teammates. She’s really just setting the bar and showing people that there is so much more that we are really capable of and we don’t need to let standards or our fears get away from that.”

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